Falling in love with Fall Down

If you don’t fall in love with the art, the clothes, the shoes, jewellery, skateboards, or supplies … then you’ll definitely fall in love with the man behind it.

Sorry ladies, he's married.

Robbie Lariviere made his own dream come true when he opened Fall Down Gallery on May 1st. After several years of creating and distributing his own clothing line among his friends, combined with a life-long passion for art, he wanted to open his own store to showcase not only his own talent, but that of all local Ottawa artists. But, attempting to do it all on his own, everytime he found a suitable venue he was bought out by a larger company, time and time again.

After quitting his job at an Ottawa area clothing store, and finding an interested co-owner, Tarek El-Khatib, finally the Cornwall boy found a home to host all of his passions under one roof, at 288 Bank St.

288 Bank St. (Bank & Sommerset)

“I think that’s the place,” said a young skateboarder passing by, on a Saturday afternoon, showing just how much buzz the four-month old venue has garnered in a short time.

Although the store features merchandise of many types, the Fall Down Gallery is primarily an art gallery, as the name would suggest. It offers one of the most attractive deals for artists in the city: a 70/30 split. Artists receive 70 per cent of the profits from art sold at the gallery, while Fall Down takes a mere 30 per cent cut. Some galleries in the city charge as much as 50 to 60 per cent.
The goal behind it is to make art more accessible. Artists don’t have to set their price too high, because they know they will be getting their fair share of the revenue.

The shop has seen over 150 artists through its doors since its inception, with the artwork being flipped, generally, every two weeks.

The most recent show featured a Native-American artist from the Bronx who made Ottawa a stop on his tour through North America.

While Fall Down Gallery attracts some of the most talented local artists that Ottawa and our surrounding area has to offer, the Bank Street spot is much more than that. Because of the fair split for artists, it is a little unrealistic to sustain a business only through the selling of art, explained Randy Hoss, who has been a life-long friend of Robbie’s, and is one of the few, but loyal, employees Fall Down hires.
The gallery has thus become a unique collection of skateboard decks, wide brimmed hats, shoes, books, jewellery, accessories, clothing and of course, pieces from Robbie’s own Fall Down line. It also carries a whole host of art supplies such as spray paint, chalk, permanent markers, and paint brushes.
“Robbie skateboards, he’s into art and fashion, so that’s what he’s done with the place,” said Randy.
As someone who knew Robbie before and after the launch of the gallery, I can attest that this entire project is a showcase of his personality. It is evident to anyone that knows the young 27-year-old that he has put his blood, sweat and every ounce of energy into making this store perfect, not only the past few months, but through his vision for the past few years.

When I met Robbie, working together at a nightclub in downtown Ottawa, I quickly learned that the clothing and hats I had been complimenting him on were his own. “I’m gonna make it happen,” he said of his goal, and I believed him.
Soon, everyone (myself included) at our bar was sporting his clothing, supporting not only great merchandise but a great man behind it.

The first time I attended one of the gallery’s then monthly, now weekly, parties, I was floored. The event was for the House of PainT art show that featured local artists, including Robbie himself. Each artist designed their own tile-sized puzzle piece that was put on display at the gallery. The premise was that they could all stand alone, or come together as one cohesive unit. Photography available for purchase was also displayed on an adjacent wall. Two artists were painting live on the scene, a local DJ was spinning some tracks, but what impressed me most was how packed the event was and the overall vibe in the room. People sipped on tall cans, grooved to the music and appreciated the art. I couldn’t wait to find the man of the hour and compliment him on his success. Robbie really had done it.

If you haven’t gone to one of the Fall Down Gallery parties that happen almost on a weekly basis now, you must.
Liquor licence and all, the gathering of likeminded people mixed with outstanding art makes for a unique evening, with the wildest attendees usually spilling over to Babylon night club, across the street, to continue the party late into the night.

The more parties they throw, the more people come in. Mostly word of mouth has been the driving force behind promoting the store from the beginning.

Robbie also travels to his hometown of Cornwall, ON. at least once a month to throw a huge event, where he gets “a lotta love” from some of his biggest supporters. Hidden inside every piece of clothing is a black label with the words “Reppin Cornwall”, showing another glimpse of insight into the man behind the merchandise.

Recently, Fall Down has received stock from bigger companies, including exclusive pieces from Mafia Jewellery. Etnies products and Ray-Bans will be joining the store’s collection later this year. Despite the gallery’s increasing appeal and guaranteed expansion, Robbie hopes it will always have a community feel, setting it apart from other Ottawa area stores like Nrml and Top of the World.With its growing success and a huge support system backing it, ask anyone involved what they think of Fall Down and you will receive only one answer: “It’s going to take over the world” … in a nutshell.Check out this Fall Down promo vid for a sneak peak at the Gallery, and the wonderful men who brought it together:

Leave a Reply